Silvio Berlusconi
Silvio Berlusconi (Reuters)

Italy's senate committee has recommended the expulsion of Italy's former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi from the Senate after his tax fraud conviction.

Berlusconi, who was handed a suspended jail sentence as well as a five year ban on holding public office, can be forced out of office by a full Senate vote within 20 days.

The vote came after Italy's political crisis was removed when premier Enrico Letta survived a confidence vote triggered by Berlusconi's decision to order his ministers out of the coalition, pushing it to the brink of general elections just seven months after the country went to the polls while Italy still struggles with serious economic problems.

However his decision to pull out of government split his own party in two. The resigning ministers, including deputy prime minister and Berlusconi's right-hand man Angelino Alfano, described it as "an awful idea".

Berlusconi eventually made an abrupt U-turn and announced he would support the government. The three-time former prime minister has appeared more tired than ever and many speculates that he will resign on cross-party panel recommendation to expel him and not wait for the final vote.

The committee's vote was based on a law banning anyone sentenced to more than two years from political office for six years. Berlusconi's tax fraud sentence was four years.